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File 145732711228.png - (1.33MB, 1031x609, little shop of corners.png) [iqdb]
14636 No. 14636
(Previous music continues)
[ ♫: http://youtu.be/knC2kyRf-n8 ]
[ ♫: http://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=knC2kyRf-n8 ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/hqrrk ]


[Ļ] Not right yet, no. Girl asks th' dame what might be on 'er mind.

"Well, no," I reply. "Not yet, I guess." <well that sure was something to tell a demon> A demon who lives right next to the onje district? Yeah, that's totally how predators work <by looking as harmless as possible yes>. That's not a word I'd use to describe her. "I've got someone to meet after this, and then I'll check in for the night somewhere." Crashing in someone's shed seems like it would get me in trouble, here. I already know I won't be fortunate enough to find another Elis.

"O h ?" Verritine lifts a very orange eyebrow. Hold on, are those scales up by her hairline? "Y o u ' r e w e l c o m e t o t r y , I g u e s s ."

Huh?

"...Try what?"

"F i n d i n g a n o p e n b e d, l e t a l o n e a r o om , d u r i n g t h e S a i n t ' s S e v e n ?" She barks a laugh (I think), and it's like someone slapped a microphone. My towel is set lightly down upon the countertop and she looks me in the eyes. Hers are almost normal—brown eyes, like you'd see on any regular human, but the pupils are weird. Instead of a black circle, they look like commas, extending over the iris.

[Maybe light blue? ...Well, that'd be downright silly now, wouldn't it? I'd start getting all her mail~]

"Y o u ' l l g e t a n i c e r r e c e p t i o n t h a n u s u a l d u r i n g t h e Sa i n t ' s S e v e n , b u t t h a t d o n ' t q u i t e m e an p e o p l e ' r e g o n n a t r e a t y o u l i k e y o u ' r e n o r m a l , m a ' a m . Y o u c a n b e t yo u r l a s t j i n gl i n g j u l i è n e t h a t t h e r e i s n ' t a n i n n k e e p o r p r o p r i e t o r t h a t ' l l g i v e s p a c e t o a n o n j e o v e r a r e g u l a r p e r s o n ."

Oh. "That sucks."

She nods.

"Well, I'll keep that in mind," I say, kind of trying to keep things moving along. "Thank you for the warning."

"N o p r o b l e m ." She points off in one direction with one hand while a couple of others hand me my brand-new towel. "T h e o n j e h o s t e l a b l o c k u p t h e s t r e e t f r o m h e r e ' l l g i v e y o u a p l a c e t o s l e e p . B u t t e l l t h e m I s e n t y o u , i f y o u g o t h e r e ," she adds.

Oh, damn... That would help a lot <maybe shes in cahoots with the hostel>. Could be. If it comes to that, then that's when I'll figure it out. Ah, but wait—if something goes wrong at the Brotherhood office, I might be able to hitch a ride back with another onje!

"Thanks again, then," I tell the demon, feeling a bit more genuine when I say it this time. I collect my things, bid her farewell, and am a meter or two from the door when I turn around. "Sorry, but I just remembered. Could you show me where the office of the Historical Brotherhood is?"

"T h e w h o . . . ?" Verri gives me a weird look, then snaps three fingers at once. "O h , i t ' s r i g h t b y t h e m u s e u m , I t h i n k . I f y o u ' l l l e t m e h av e t h a t m a p a g a i n f o r a m o m e n t . . ." She gestures, and I oblige her, walking back over to the countertop. When I return the map to her, she unfolds it and...

...

Okay, that's not quite what I had in mind when I said I wanted a map.

[She almost heard tha~t.]
202posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 15418
File 14961143012.png - (1.70MB, 1066x800, newbienomore.png) [iqdb]
15418
[x] Runs far away, broken and gutless. Won't even save her own skin.

We fucked up back then and now it is time to own up. Guess this is the end of the road.

No way we're gonna make it easy for them though. We're gonna run and run and fight for every extra second of liberty.
>> No. 15419
[x] Runs far away, broken and gutless. Won't even save her own skin.

Never change, Fell.
>> No. 15420
[x] Runs far away, broken and gutless. Won't even save her own skin.

Acknowledging the ridiculously low odds of this encounter does nothing to absolve this stupidity.
>> No. 15421
Well, then.

[x] Runs him down, cold and heartless. Won't even save her own soul.

This isn't going to win, but while I've been a proponent of keeping Sanae more nonviolent, this does seem like a situation where running would lead to a much worse outcome, long-term.

...Granted, the phrasing of this choice seems a bit too knowing on Fell's part, but eh. Nothing to be done.
>> No. 15422
[X] Runs far away, broken and gutless. Won't even save her own skin.

Got to get out.
>> No. 15423
>>15421
I was thinking that, but no. Darn, we got caught for murder, better escape with even more murder!
Not that it matters. We'll just fuck it up either way.
>> No. 15424
File 149671697867.jpg - (87.80KB, 736x1016, blackout the night.jpg) [iqdb]
15424
[Ҕ] Runs far away, broken and gutless. Won't even save her own skin.


[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/wxcro ]
(Previous track continues)



It's me or the fairy.

It didn't have to be that way, of course. But that was before he went and said all of that. And that really narrows down my options, doesn't it?

There's no hesitation left in me. Several nights ago, I made peace with the idea that this could possibly happen again, and now here it is. Sooner than I'd have liked, honestly. Much sooner.

Popping open the ofuda pouch on my belt, I whip out a blank and break into a sprint—the fairy's fast, but he's no tengu—going in the direction that he went.




...Or... I don't <what>?

My brain just doesn't process that that for a moment, but when I try again, it's clear: I don't.

What is going on.

[C'mon, McIrish, the susperp's gettin' away!]

A void where panic would be. And there should be a lot of it. Instead, now I just feel that clenching cold in my entire chest.

And anger.

That's understandable, because I didn't sprint. I didn't take off running. I grabbed the ofuda, but it's not empowered. It curls slightly in my grasp, loose and flexible.

What is going on.

I'm not chasing him. I... can't chase him <thats absurd>? It is, but my body doesn't respond to the idea of 'Run after him and cut him down'.

...Am I being body-jacked? Is this hypnotic suggestion? Mind control? Those aren't likely, but I don't give discounting them a thought. Back in Japan, on the Outside, those would sound ridiculous. Something you see on TV, or in manga, or in a creepier type of doujinshi. But in Makai or Gensokyo? There's no reason to believe it couldn't be true <no they wouldnt even let me consider that its me its something in me>.

But before I get to that, there are more pressing problems.

I need to kill him.

I need to kill him because I am a killer <thats not funny and its not clever>. And I'm not laughing. They already know I'm an onje. They'll soon know I'm a killer. They're going to think I'm the Smoke-Woman. And eventually they'll find out I'm from Gensokyo, and a miko. If he is not stopped, my chances of dying or much worse are 100% <try 120>.

Yet my body refuses to do that.

What then, can it do?


[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=T99blrM1DgQ ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/T99blrM1DgQ ]


Turning back, I walk over to the curb near the unconscious Grabby and kneel down. I send power into the blank ofuda, and it immediately goes solid. It pierces the stone curb easily, and I'm able to push the rectangle of paper into the sidewalk like I was pushing a CD into a fancy stereo.

"Huh."

I look over at Grabby, and think for a moment about killing him and Gangly. The ofuda remains firm. I'm not going to kill them, of course—they don't know I've killed someone. Weirdly appropriate, huh <or not or you could stop wasting precious seconds like an idiot>?

Unlike the fairy, I can harm them just fine: I'm able to slice a short, thin line down the back of Grabby's calf. There's a groan of pain and he squirms, but doesn't get up. He's damn lucky that's all I'm doing.

So.

I can't kill the fairy. I must kill the fairy, and I literally can't do it.

...

Ahhhh.

I remember what this cold feeling in my chest is, now. It's horror.

"Guess it's time to g-go," I say, but the last syllable comes out in a gasp. My jaw is wobbling and my eyes are burning. So much for resolve. So much for dedication. So much for determination. Being ready to kill again? A lie. A lie for myself and nobody else.

...Does that mean I'm trying to kill myself <now thats a sick joke>? What is <if im totally ready to kill but not if its someone else>? It can't be that <shit maybe i should just do it now>? No. That's not true, and I'm not going to do that <then why arent i going after him right now moron>.

It can't be.

Right?

...No, I don't have time to think about this <im just not ready to deal with it>. Obviously <and maybe i should just>.

Just what <should i do>? Well, I think <i could look at it> differently. Yes, if I <tried to, then maybe I could> do just that, then.

Then...?

My heart is pounding. A breeze kicks up.

...Then ...No, what does that even mean?

I don't know. I don't think anyone knows.

Right now, there's a problem before me, and I can't solve it. I have to solve it. And apparently I will not let myself solve it <just leave it blank and go onto the next one i guess>.

...I hate this.

Maybe I'm trying to hinder myself, but I won't let myself stop myself. I said it, didn't I? Only I can save me. I just didn't know it'd be saving me from myself.

"Whoa, Kochiya. Don't get entrances like that very often. You need a hand?"

Eh? What's Donny doing out here?

...wait.

I'm in the lobby of The Laughing Gecko. I'm also bent over with hands on my knees, breathing hard but not wheezing.

Huh.

I'm... I really don't have the luxury of tuning out like that, right now. That's freaky.

"I'm good," I say and straighten up. "Just decided to—" ...Did I just run back here without stopping? "—run the rest of the way back."

[can't run that fast you jeeeeerrrrrrrk]

Donny walks over with a cup of water which I gratefully accept. I gulp it down and hand it back, but he's giving me a critical look.

"...Something happen tonight?"

Ha ha ha. You don't know the half of it <hes not stupid dont bs him> "Some locals got rowdy. I rowdied back. Rest of the night wasn't bad, though." I need to end this ASAP. "Gonna go take a shower or something," I add, and head for the stairs.

"All right then. Don't drown."

"Heh. Good night, Donny."

"Back at you. You look like you need it."

Gods, do I ever. But that, too, is a luxury I don't have right now.

I start laying out the outline of a plan as I take the steps two at a time <woooo no safety committee rep to stop me now>. Starting point: Oh Crap, Time To Run. End point: Successfully Flee The City.

...But since I don't know how this happened, I'm running a high risk of screwing something up or getting caught while I try to get from the start to the end <well what makes the most sense>. Nothing does! This situation is bullshit <thats a popular thing to say isnt it>! Only because it's true <or maybe i should quit spazzing out and flinging open doors and think about it>!

[There we go, just need to find the yelling~]

On the other side of the door to the second floor, Piper and some grey-haired woman jump back in surprise <oh i remember that braid>. ...Yeah, it's that woman in bed who I thought was sick <prooobably drunk actually>. I duck my head in apology and scoot past them, muttering an embarrassed, "Ah, sorry, sorry. Had a lot to drink."

"Be sure to sleep on your side," calls back—well, it must be the woman, because Piper doesn't sound Indian <nice of her though>.

...Especially since she pipes up right after. "Manjit, most people who need to know that can't walk that well."

"I can."

"You're an alcoholic."

"Shush."

The door shuts behind them as they head down the stairs, and behind me, the door to Room Three shuts, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I make a beeline for the locker, and pull out my key.

[Thaaaaat is the face of a busy girl.]

...Fine. Then, how did the fairy and I cross paths?


[ ] (Write-in)

________________________________________________________________________________

I'm sorry for throwing you all such an unpleasant curveball in the last update. But as unlikely as it seems and as much as it sucks, there is a reasonable explanation for it. Please write in any ideas or theories—partial or full, it doesn't matter—you have that might answer that question. The closer you can come to the truth, the more it will help her chances of escape. Don't overthink it.
>> No. 15425
I'm going to have to re read the story since the encounter with smoke girl. I hope you're happy I am
>> No. 15426
> write-in only

This would be a whole lot easier if the first encounter wasn't posted three and a half years ago.
>> No. 15428
Uh, okay, what the hell happened in the middle of this update?... Because I don't think the obvious suspect was responsible, and if she was I need to seriously reevaluate some things.

Don't have any particular ideas for answering the write-in question. Will reread and see what I can come up with.
>> No. 15429
Well that was... off putting to say the least. One of the last things I expected when the running away option won. I'm not sure how to interpret this.

Needless to say, it might be wise to re-read a bit, and think things through. Maybe bounce ideas around.
>> No. 15430
File 14968970013.png - (1.58MB, 987x687, nyan cat.png) [iqdb]
15430
I should note that the fairy in the question being asked is the young man she met a few minutes ago, not his aunt from about a week ago.

>>15426
I'm not proud about that, either, believe me. Thankfully, there are links to the previous thread at >>14641 .

>>15428
That one is going to be rather more difficult to guess right away.
>> No. 15431
Alright, for the sake of moving the story along we should probably try and get some discussion going. So the vote is asking how Sanae and that fairy crossed paths, or rather how the fairy found Sanae. Without overthinking it too much here are my thoughts.

Sanae goes to the feast, there are lot of demons and fairies and such. It's natural that with so many people she wouldn't recognize the fairy if she had seen it before in the crowds at the feast. From what the fairy said, he specifically went looking for the person who messed with his aunt. It's been a while so I can't remember how it went down with that other fairy, but this guy goes and talks with her to find out who did her in. Then he goes to the most crowded place he can find and starts looking for an onje. Now, sometime at the feast he finds a certain green haired onje, probably when she gathered a crowd at that ddr-like game. Or maybe he's off on the side streets when he sees an onje being trailed by some folks. Either way, he finds someone that could be his mark and goes after her.

Then we have the fight, and the fairy baits Sanae into showing him her star magic to confirm if it's really her. He then runs off, supposedly to inform the authorities. Sanae has her weird freak out where she goes into serious mode, but some unknown force stops her from pursuing the fairy.

It's a very basic theory that amounts to "He saw her, then went after her.", but I wanted to try and start a discussion.
>> No. 15432
>>15431
Meant to reply to this earlier.
I think you've got the right idea on how he found her once he was in the city. But the fairy did say he came up here looking for her, and how he would have been able to either track her or pick the right city is a fairly large question mark.

After rereading, the tentative theory I have is that the smoke woman followed or otherwise tracked Sanae and lured the fairy after her. Will post in more detail tomorrow morning.
>> No. 15437
>>15432
All right, here's what I got. I'll say up front that this is rather more likely to count as overthinking things.

My theory as for how the fairy found Sanae is by being unwittingly led there by the Smoke-Woman. We know nothing about this fairy's capabilities apart from that he's able to beat a demon in a fight. So it's possible that he could find her purely on his own, but we have no evidence one way or the other. >>15431 's suggestion of him going to the largest place he could find seems unlikely, though, since Dis isn't actually that big a city (Pandemonium is much bigger but farther away), and if he was working blindly his aunt's killer might easily have gone off in a different direction, like towards Vina (the town where we met Elis).

So, considering other options: In this post >>12569 , the Smoke-Woman seemngly took an interest in Sanae's magic analysis abilities (implying they might surpass her own), and said they should talk about it later. In that scene she also obviously showed herself willing to manipulate Sanae for her own ends, and capable of moving (through shadows / underground) in a way that she'd be hidden from Sanae. I’ll assume the rancher-fairy did indeed resurrect and tell her nephew Sanae’s sign. From that point, the Smoke-Woman could have shrouded her appearance and drawn the nephew fairy’s attention, pointing him off at least in Sanae’s general direction.

The Smoke-Woman set Sanae up to look like her, which beyond the one fight with the rancher fairy could have the longer-term benefit of letting Sanae be caught for the Smoke-Woman’s crimes, taking the fall for her. And if Sanae was pursued by the authorities but managed to escape, she’d still be in a very vulnerable position, which the Smoke-Woman could take advantage of by offering help- and, for instance, make use of Sanae's magic that interested her. The main hole I see in this idea is that it seems difficult for her to follow Sanae undetected while also leading the fairy nephew. Could have left breadcrumbs for him, so to speak, but she couldn’t reveal herself to anyone directly without tipping her hand. But I still think she’d have the best motive of anyone we’ve met so far (barring the fairies themselves) to see that Sanae was found and set up as a fall-guy.

That said, something I'd want other people's opinions on is what happened in this post >>15075 - because it could present an alternate explanation for how this happened. In the middle of the scene, Koishi witnessed what was evidently a dead-drop between two unknown persons, where the first (who was supposedly "worried about [Sanae]") left some manner of recording device for the second. It's possible one or both of them were spying on Sanae. I thought at first that the first might have been the fairy, but the brief descriptions don’t seem to match - Koishi says the person’s “a bit short … but not by a lot”, and Sanae describes the fairy as “really short” (granted, this could be explained by different perspectives). The “black and blonde” description made me briefly think the latter might be Shou, but the “threading wires through your skull” thing doesn’t fit her. These two were probably demons. I don’t think this scene is actually related to how the fairy found Sanae, but it could be, for instance if they were friends or associates of his. But from a meta perspective, we’re trying to write-in Sanae piecing together how this happened, and she has no knowledge of what Koishi saw in the park. And minimal knowledge of other things that could come up later, like the fact that Nazrin could find her through the UFOs.
>> No. 15439
...tracking spells. Holy shit, why didn't I think of this sooner.

Someone kills your aunt, what do you do? Chase the bastard down. How do you follow someone who can fly long distances every day? The same way that do that - magic.

If he were following some innate trait of Sanae, she'd be doomed, so assuming he's not... what do we have now that we also had at the scene of the crime? Something that ought to have a nice, distinctive magical signature to home in on? Something we know for a fact she left a sample of behind?

The murder weapon.

Goddammit Fell, if this is going where I think it is you're a horrible person.
>> No. 15440
>>15439
It's an interesting idea, but have tracking spells even been mentioned to exist in this story? I might be forgetting a mention of them, but if not that seems like a twist outside what we could easily guess.
>> No. 15441
Hmm. Hmmmmmm. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

Why, exactly, is the fairy here in person at all, skulking in dark crime-ridden alleys himself on the chance that this is the person he's looking for? Why would he help take down the other miscreants? Why would he do anything on his own rather than enlist the aid of the police? (Who, remember, already have a thorough record of Sanae entering the city, including the exact location she was planning to visit. Once alerted all they need to do is go straight to the Brotherhood.)

So what, this dude is doing some country solo vengeance thing, with a homemade tracking spell, not bothering to involve the police before now, and thinking he can totally take the killer onje face to face, since clearly he, an adolescent backcountry farmer fairy, has no trouble beating up inner city thugs? I DUNNO ABOUT THAT.

But I also don't want to "overthink it." But... I also don't think we really have enough information to get anything concrete. Some possibilities aside from the above:

- Elaborate setup by the Smoke Woman. Could be anything really.

- The fairy's later comments (or maybe more) weren't real, and were actually some sort of illusion that plays on the target's worst immediate fear. (This has the additional bonus of explaining her panic, forced flight reaction, and being on tone with her previous experiences in the palanquin ship. The most elegant answer IMO, except that I don't know if Fell would go this deep on drama from an event that wasn't technically real.)

- It really is an elaborate setup by a very dumb fairy...? Maybe he hired the thugs to help comb the city? No, but he actually does kick the thug in the head. And while he does seem to be luring Sanae to the Watch after she comes back and talks to him... he did nothing to entice her to come back and talk to him rather than flee the scene in the first place. That was all her own (our) idea. I really got nothing that makes sense.
>> No. 15442
There's a big, popular festival going that lots of people are going too, in a city that's pretty onje friendly and relatively close to the farm we encountered Smokey at. It stands to reason that this would be the first place he'd look. Or hell, he wasn't looking at all and just happened to be here, because hey, festival.
How'd did we actually meet? He saw us playing DDR or something and came after us.
Seems pretty simple to me.
>> No. 15443
Hey Fell, do we actually need to condense these theories into a write-in vote at some point?
>> No. 15445
>>15443
I was wondering that too, but apparently not.

>>15441
Fell's already addressed a few points you brought up, but for the question of why he didn't go straight to the police (the Watch, rather), I got the impression he hadn't been sure of her identity as the culprit until he saw her star sign, so he might have tailed her trying to be sure he had the right person. (Either not wanting to accuse an innocent or not wanting to tip his hand to the real culprit, or both.) Which Sanae further confirmed with her reactions to his accusations, but if you look closely at that part, he seems almost surprised to confirm it really is her.

Also:
>The fairy's later comments (or maybe more) weren't real
It's not in the same way as you were thinking, but I have been considering the that Sanae's had a psychotic break of some sort- possibly right after that when she blanked out until back at the hostel, or maybe earlier. I personally do think the fairy's words were real, but your idea is interesting.

Anyway...
[x] If she all done here, why linger? Time wasted ain't time well-spent.

I might be missing something, but I don't see why going up a floor to leave from the balcony would be much easier, aside from getting out a window being more of a struggle. I definitely don't see how it would do anything to keep pursuit off her tail (barring, again, something like accidentally leaving a torn piece of cloth on a window nail as a clue). Fell, can you clarify, or is it up to us to interpret why the balcony would help?
>> No. 15461
File 149938829163.jpg - (272.69KB, 1500x1000, just a little packing and reorganizing.jpg) [iqdb]
15461
Deleting & reposting because 1) I noticed some typos, 2) there was only one vote, and 3) there was a very good question asked here:

>>15445
>Fell, can you clarify, or is it up to us to interpret why the balcony would help?
Whoops. Kinda botched that, sorry. See, it's not totally balcony-related in the first place.

It's about whether or not to spend some time doing some things ("being clever") that she thinks could possibly delay anyone pursuing/investigating her. However, I did NOT make that very clear at all, now that I reread it.

Sorry about the (very understandable) confusion.

========================================================================

[&] (I'm reviewing/The situation)

[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=rZB54jhU6sU ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/rZB54jhU6sU ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/xilhr ]


What, am I clairvoyant? How the heck am I supposed to know that <when you have eliminated the something something uh okay it boils down to go with what makes the most sense>. ...Nothing makes sense <really not the time to be difficult with myself>. Okay. Okay. Fine. He was looking for me; he said so. Or at least, he's looking for—he said it was his aunt, right <i think so>?—his aunt's killer. Still me, of course, but there's a difference there.

Don't know if he spotted me at the Feast and followed me, or if we just ran into each other. He was asking questions to figure out who I was, but maybe he already suspected and was just making sure.

It takes four tries to fit the key into the lock. Crappy luck, crappy lock <maybe its nerves>. Yeah, that could maybe be possible <relax>. Relaxing isn't the easiest thing to do right now <freaking out will only make that worse>. I know that already.

So he went looking for me and ended up finding me because he saw my sign and I didn't play it cool when he started messing with me. I'll have to really watch that in the future—should have been watching it already, but I let my guard down <duh it was a festival and i went there to relax>. Doesn't matter, I still dropped the ball <ugh>.

Then again, screw him, too. Like, was it so damn important for him to go hunting the killer down himself? Why didn't he just report this to the police like a normal person and let them handle it <hes actually probably doing that now>? So then do it sooner next time! This isn't a movie where people can just run around and take revenge on the bad guys <well this is a family of farmers and not city folk>. ...That doesn't excuse anything <says the killer>.

...I'm being kind of ugly and awful right now, but even though I know it's wrong, I can't fully let go of this <undeserved> indignation. But I'm a pretty awful person, so I guess that's to be expected <not awful just doing some really stupid shit>. That's about two-thirds of being awful, right there.

kchshhh-click

The locker's air seal releases and the door pops open. Doesn't look like anyone's messed with it, but I go over it quickly just to make sure. Once that's done, I start putting away and rearranging some things in order to make my imminent escape go less horribly.

While strapping down my rolled-up towel more tightly, I have a sudden crazy thought: What if he's not going to the police? What if he's trying to just fake me out and make me panic? I'd be playing right into his hands by doing all this <why on earth would he ever do that though>. I don't know, I'm not a pissed-off fairy <but he is>. ...Yeah. Even if he's actually not going to the police—the Watch; sorry, Elis—he said he was, and that means what I need to do right now is no different than if he wasn't. It's like a 1-1-9 call—even if it sounds like a mistake, they have to respond as though it were a real emergency.

"Ha. With my luck, I'll catch on fire, too."

[Ehhhh. Not in the mood for long pork, tonight. Maybe another time!]

I won't be able to use my identification papers or give my name anymore, either. Not with anyone who's going to look at them closely or check my background. Which means I'll probably need to disguise myself again before too long. And watch my use of magic, too, since that's how <wait a sec>... Huh? ...Oh. Oh man, I'm dumb.

I've been thinking this thought over and over and I never actually thought about what it meant. The fairy in the street identified me by my sign, didn't he? But he wasn't there that night. Only one person who was there besides me, and he pretty much confirmed it.



<she came back after all>

I allow myself to just... take a moment and be grateful about that. Forget what happened because of that—in this instant, about this one thing... I'm glad it wasn't forever.



Okay.

Okay, I'm... I'm good.

Yeah. Sanae Kochiya, totally rad hero girl. No way she's gonna start crying because of stupid shit like this. Just been a shitty night that isn't over and probably isn't done being shitty yet. Gonna suck it up and move on <come on now sanae>. Yep, mooooving on.

All right. That's done, and so's the packing. I shut the locker, look the place over, and find nothing left to take care of. Also, nobody else in the room, which mortifies me that I only now thought to look. I didn't get the sense that anyone else was in here, but I actually didn't bother specifically looking at the other bunks. That would have been very awkward.

[Shoulda brought this up earlier, but fleeing is what's going on, right? Done this lots of times~ Want any advice, just go ahead and ask~!]

For a second, I wonder if I'd be able to get my money back from Donny (or at least only pay for half a night) since I'm going to be escaping. I'm not exactly swimming in juliène, after all, and the thrifty side of me that had to track sales and stock at the shrine can't help but chime in. Maybe if I turn myself in I can collect the bounty on the Smoke-woman's head. ...Wait.

All this mess I'm in—okay, more like half of it—hinges upon everyone thinking I'm the Smoke-woman <maybe i could try saying im not but>. But to who <yeah>? I don't want to be talking to anyone who'd care about that, because they'd also be caring about the other crimes to my name that I did commit. So that's not gonna work—and besides, I tried that already <she was furious and not listening and thought i was messing with her>. And still ended up killing her <no theres still something i can do>. Is there <a note>?

Well, that's all very dramatic, but it won't save me <no not by itself>. More importantly, I can't afford to spend time on that. Besides, it's... I'd be admitting that I'm going to get captured <hell no its not thats insane and stupid and prideful to even think>. Oh, really? Then why do it <might take the heat off the chase>? That's... No, it wouldn't be worth the effort <its gotta be worth something>.

...

Fine.

Whatever.

Feeling the uncomfortable pressure of time ticking away, I retrieve my brush-pen and shake it vigorously for a few seconds while I open up the locker again. Things like this pen exist on the Outside, and wouldn't cost more than a few hundred yen at a stationery shop. But in Gensokyo, the only place such things are made are in a tengu workshop, hand-built by craftsmen. Shameimaru herself started the workshop just so the Bunbunmaru didn't have to get put on hold while she made new ones.

Kneeling next to the locker's open door, I uncap the brush pen. My nose wrinkles at the unpleasant smell of the chemical ink—a necessity of design since you can't use an inkstone for this sort of thing, after all.

"Sorry, Donny," I whisper, and mean it: the ink is very permanent, and will be a pain to clean off the grey metal of the door's inside surface. Then I get to writing.

   I'M NOT
   SMOKE
   WOMAN.


My hand feels less than steady as I draw (more than write) the large Roman letters on the inside of the door. My English has probably gotten rustier than it used to be, since there aren't too many opportunities to use it in Gensokyo. But I keep it dead simple <ugh really> so that it still says what I need it to.

Looking it over for another few seconds, I'm reminded once again of the reason I'm in this jam at all, aside from my own dumb curiosity <she made it something to get curious about though>. Well, you know what?

"Fuck her, too." I don't feel at all bad about swearing, this time. She thinks she can pin all this on me? Divine retribution's coming, Smoke-woman. Enjoy it.

  MURDER
  IS HER
  FAULT.


[...Ehh? What's a smoke woman, though~?]

I'd be a real crappy yakuza, huh? Sanae Kochiya don't take the fall for nobody <anikiiiiiiiiiiii>. Heh. Not that they aren't chasing "the Smoke-woman" already, but the more I can make it clear that I'm less to blame for this than her, the better.

...All right, it's really time to leave. Past it, actually.

Closing the locker door by all but a centimeter, I stuff the keys under the pillow on my bunk, and walk over to the window. If I was a smarter girl, I'd have thought up a way to get to the third floor without being heard going into the stairwell and up a floor, but I don't have the time to be that clever. Kinda sucks, since it'd be way easier to leave from the balcony off the rec room/kitchen. Crud <no see its an investment>.

Hmm... True; if it keeps them off my tail longer than if I'd not even bothered, being clever might not hurt. I just need to do it right, do it quick, and not mess it up.

Sure. That'll happen.


[ ] If she all done here, why linger? Time wasted ain't time well-spent.
[ ] If it'll slow th' law down, why not? Time well-spent ain't time wasted.

________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you all very much! I don't tend to do abstract write-ins, but you've all done as well as I could have hoped for. There are several things I haven't addressed yet because they weren't there when I started writing and I failed to notice them will be better covered in the next update or two.

Apologies for the huge delays, as well. Work has been heavy, and I finally learned what it was like to actually have a subordinate for once. It's almost like I'm finally starting to do normal human things like normal humans are supposed to experience while living an actual normal life. It's weird.
>> No. 15463
>>15461
No worries, might've just been poor reading comprehension on my part. I'll change my vote now that the intent's clearer.

[x] If it'll slow th' law down, why not? Time well-spent ain't time wasted.
>> No. 15464
[X] If it'll slow th' law down, why not? Time well-spent ain't time wasted.

Could pay off for her later.
>> No. 15500
File 150034824754.jpg - (169.95KB, 625x417, So long and thanks for all the sleep.jpg) [iqdb]
15500
[Θ] If it'll slow th' law down, why not? Time well-spent ain't time wasted.

[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=rZB54jhU6sU ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/rZB54jhU6sU ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/xilhr ]
(Previous track continues)

Sliding a blank ofuda out of the holster on my belt, I kneel in front of the window, looking back at the door to the room before I start <wouldnt i hear them coming first>. The body does a lot of stupid things on its own, even without thoughts to mess it all up even further. Gods, don't I know it <nows the time for smart so shush and get to it>. Right, right.

I hold my breath and focus my attention, steadying my body and its movements so that I get as close as possible to absolute stillness. Once I decide I'm as motionless as I'll reasonably get, I lift up the empowered ofuda in my hand. Using the very point of the corner, I etch a shallow star into the wooden handle that holds one of the pair of windows latched shut. All the while, I keep the intended spell's use clearly in my mind.

It doesn't take too long—it's a very small star, because the handle isn't very large. Once done, I release that breath and peer closely at my handiwork. My goal is to keep these cuts thin and shallow—the longer they evade notice, the better. I seem to have managed to do so just fine.

My preparations to repeat the process on the other window in the frame are almost brought to a horrible end when I hear muffled footsteps in the stairwell <chill girl theyre going downstairs> but fortunately, it turns out to be nothing. Yet. ...No time to mess around. I gently cut another star into the side of the opposite handle, mirroring what I did to the first one. There's no dust or wood shavings, but I blow on it anyway out of dumb habit <natural habit id say>.

[Bah. Kids these days; no inspiration in the vandalism! What happened to poetry on the walls at protests, huh?]

With all the careful stuff out of the way, I start to carve stars in other places: the floor, the walls, even a few on the ceiling. I can't get too wild this this—I have to carve and activate each one with a specific effect and action in mind, and I'm not exactly a bubbling fountain of creative nastiness right now. I don't have the time to do as many as I'd like, or to come up with as many ideas as I'd like.

"That's life," I say with a sigh <i dunno the non fugitive parts have been pretty rewarding>. Sure, I'll just get right back to that part as soon as I get out of Crap Namek.

I trace one last star on the door and empower it. Anyone trying to get through—after they unlock it or break it down, that is—will find the door constantly blown shut in their face. It's dumb and minor, like almost all of the rest of them. Bursts of air to distract, knock over, blow around, slam closed, whatever. Anything to not only delay people from getting in, but also to make them think I'm trying to keep them out. I want all kinds of attention focused here, and not a whole lot on the idea of "Maybe she's not even here and is getting away."

...

Guilt over the trouble I'm sure to soon cause compels me to leave a ℐ50 coin under my pillow. Not exactly a fortune, but I hope he'll get the message. He seems like someone who would.

As for that trouble... I don't know how long it'll last. Longer than the five minutes or so I spent doing all this, I hope <it will it has to>, or it'll all be for naught. With a bit of extra time on my side, I'll be able to put more thoughtful work into getting away that isn't just "run real fast". Gathering my bag, I return to the window.

It's tall and thin, framed in wood and divided by a bar down the middle. Not a whole lot to see right now, besides an empty street and its weird, old-looking streetlights. Of course, it's nighttime, I'm only on the second floor, and the buildings near the hostel have second and third stories as well. I open both halves of the window and let the night air wash over me <pretty nice night actually>. Uh. Aside from all the horrible parts. But... sure. With a careful check outside to make sure that the Watch isn't coming up the road, I climb up onto the sill.

The two halves made by the bar are barely wide enough to allow me through, and testing that makes hours of listening to girls at school chatter about dieting come barreling back into my mind <could have done without thinking about that again>. I've never really needed to, probably because of the whole "living god" thing. My pack, however, needs some very serious squishing before it'll pop through <this is fine this is fine>.

No lights on in the area. Good. Pausing to listen, I don't hear anyone upstairs on the balcony. That doesn't mean anything, of course, but it lets me pretend like things are still going okay. And nobody else around, either... No, hold on. A fairy couple down at the end of the street <nah theyre passing by>, but they're walking by on a cross-street. A few seconds later, they're out of sight.

[Is it go time~?]

"It's showtime."


[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=9y0zjpyHRos ]
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/9y0zjpyHRos ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/ccxuv ]


I push my pack out one side of the window, making sure not to let go of it when it finally pops out of the split frame. Even though it's a straight drop and it's only a story, I don't plan on being down at street level for a while yet. Sitting on the windowsill and gripping the frame, I get my torso out of the window and awkwardly don my pack. No sense in fastening it tight, since I'll be digging through it again in a little bit. I get most of the rest of me out of the window, and hunker down into a weird little crouch on the windowsill, gripping the frame-dividing bar with my thighs and knees.

Reaching back inside, I pull the windows half-closed, then place my thumbs on the ends of the handles and send a little power into the stars I'd just engraved into them. In one movement, I pull the windows closed as quietly as possible and hop backwards off the sill into the night.

I do a little backflip through the air and come out of it flying at a slow, lazy pace. The windows of Room Three close fully and a quiet little kla-takk sound tells me that they've closed and latched. Locked-room mystery, heck yeah. Have fun working that one out, guys.

...I hope Donny doesn't get in trouble for this. I mean, yeah, onje are less than second-class citizens, but this isn't some kind of evil despotic empire, right <he owns a business and deals with onje im probably not the first bit of trouble hes had>. Might be the first murderer, though.

[Heeeeyyyy. Was that a trap? ...Not really gloating or making a break for it, so... Hmm. Well, probably not~ Revel in this magnanimousness, okay? It's good for the skin~]

...A moment of worry passes through me, but... no, I made sure there was nobody else in there with me. Yeah, it's fine. Anyway, time for the actually-escaping part.

I drift around to the back side of the building and then take off, flying above the darker streets, keeping out of well-lit areas, and keeping below the general roof-line level. I aim mo-of-an for a few blocks, then sharply turn and go straight pir.

...And I do it all without being seen, being yelled at, or even passing near a commotion... okay, a commotion that isn't loud barfing in an alley. But that's not directed at me.

...For a fleeting second, I wonder if I just imagined all of it. It's a nice enough night out. How could anything have gone wrong on a night like this? There's a town festival going on, for crying out loud. I've got a nice enough bed waiting for me at the hostel. What am I even doing?

And then I pass by one of the streets where, less than half an hour ago, I remember starting to think that I should turn back. Somewhere in the surrounding block or two is where Friendly and I had our confrontation.

The darkness gets a little darker <thats just my mood>. "Right." ...No, I'm definitely out here for a reason.

I need to get out of the city.

But if I've really bought myself some time with all that, then it's time to put 'more thoughtful work' into escaping. I don't know if it'll even work <no stop i already went through this>, but... All right, fine. I've gone into the cave, so gimme a cub already <that is not how that saying works>. It is now! I'm not just going to hang onto a train car like those people in India, or stow aboard like some kind of thief.

No, I'm gonna walk right up and buy a train ticket. That is, I will. But Kochiya won't.


(Pick only one sub-option)
[ ] New duds n' new name, first.
- [ ] Girl who? No, just this here young lady what showed up.
- [ ] Does a bit 'a theater, too. Some misdirection t' confound th' law.

________________________________________________________________________________

Half a step forward every day.
>> No. 15502
[x] New duds n' new name, first.
- [x] Girl who? No, just this here young lady what showed up.

Meep.
>> No. 15503
[X] New duds n' new name, first.
- [X] Girl who? No, just this here young lady what showed up.

No need to over do it.
>> No. 15504
[x] New duds n' new name, first.
- [x] Does a bit 'a theater, too. Some misdirection t' confound th' law.

I'd be more comfortable with this option if I was confident exactly what it would involve, but ah well. Sanae was surprisingly good at deception getting into the city, so hopefully she could manage either option without screwing up too much.
>> No. 15541
File 150266651120.gif - (2.00MB, 420x329, dun-dun-dun dada-dada UNDER PRESSURE~.gif) [iqdb]
15541
As the weeks of silence may have implied, This update's going to be a bit late. Been working 6 x 10+ hour days a week in order to make the deadline for another huge order. And getting a new workstation on the line up and running in order to accommodate the increased volume of orders that we're projected to get in the coming months as well. And dealing with an engineer assigned to this product line who doesn't know, doesn't care, and doesn't care to know anything about it. And who likes to maintaining the pretense that despite growing evidence to the contrary, not only does he know what he's doing and what is best for the line, I don't know either of those things, and certainly don't really need to be asked for input or informed of changes until they're just about to be made or are in the middle of being made. But why should I? I just work this line 98% of the time, and have more experience on it than almost anyone else here. What the fuck do I know?

...That said, it's still actually a very nice job, and most all of the people here are great. But my time and energy, it consumeth.

Anyway!
I come to you today with more ways to fill the aching void in your life that this story attempts to alleviate while I try to rally and get an update going.

-- The Crabfeast podcast ( http://crabfeast.libsyn.com/ )
Comedians meet with another comedian, sit down, and swap stories about their childhoods and the weird shit in the rest of their lives. That's an unhelpfully vague description, but it's also quite accurate. I really love listening to it.

-- Black Lagoon ( http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Black-Lagoon/ )
Back off its (effectively) 7-year hiatus at last, this manga is finally up and running again!

-- Happy Sugar Life ( http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Happy-Sugar-Life )
This isn't Abnormal-kei Joshi, and the two should not be confused for one another. But damned if I don't find myself constantly being reminded of it while I read this.

-- Moyashimon ( http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Moyashimon )
Up and running again, as well. Never seen a manga that had such fun with margin notes.

-- Forbidden Scrollery
Go catch up if you haven't, because shit's gettin' real.
Also, dat Agatha ChrisQ, damn.

-- The Little Match Girl ( http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Macchi-Shoujo )
If you liked the idea of Hell Girl/Jigoku Shoujo, but got bored with having virtually the same setup, premise, and outcome every damn episode, then this is the manga for you! Vignette-style manga with strands of continuity. Artist loves to draw weird.

-- Duel (1971)
Spielberg directs a car chase. It's un-flashy and real and I liked it a lot.

-- Freeway (1996)
Little Red Riding Hood in modern-day LA. I refuse to believe that Tokyo Akazukin wasn't inspired by this in some way.

-- Tokyo Akazukin ( http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Toukyou-Akazukin )
Speaking of.
Also, while I normally like to let people get broadsided out of the blue by things, I do feel like I should point out that this manga is pretty graphic. Not to mention a bit edgelordy.
>> No. 15611
Is this still going?
Cuz if so *FELL I LOVE YOU!*
If not... uh, never mind then...
>> No. 15765
File 151235791851.jpg - (101.19KB, 557x507, low court.jpg) [iqdb]
15765
[ᆍ] New duds n' new name, first.
- [℁] Girl who? No, just this here young lady what showed up.



(Play at low or medium volume.)
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/f5M3R2WvFQk ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=f5M3R2WvFQk ]


]]]-


The Baroness in Blue-gray Tartan sees all, knows all, and tells little. In her two-cubit-by-four-cubit empire, she is a god.

A supplicant approaches.

"Single for the twenty-four-o'clock to Mictlan, please. One-way."

Only she possesses the power to grant the wishes of those who approach her demesne, and she does not hand it out freely.

"Oooh. Heading somewhere fancy tonight, are we?"

The supplicant is surveyed. Examined. Scrutinized. Judged. The fairy in his tailored suit permits himself a chuckle in the face of the Baroness' overwhelming aura.

"Heh, not exactly. I always come back to see the family during the Feast, but I can't leave my desk empty for too many days."

A common story from a common being. Nothing here arouses the ire or suspicion of the Baroness in Blue-gray Tartan. The proclamation is made:
He shall be permitted travel.

"Oooooh, I hear you there. Forty juliène? ...Here you go, sir."

He offers his humble gratitude and goes along to the Station that lies beyond her lands, leaving the Baroness alone in her domain once more.

...The night shift sucks. Pays well, definitely. But it
suuuuucks.

More wayfarers come to stand before her. A pair, actually.

"Hi there. Could we get a pair of..." As if sensing the look his companion is giving him, the demon glances at the woman next to him. A pair of small silver end-caps on her forward-swept horns catch the lamplight for a moment. "...A pair of tickets for a single first-class cabin on the Pandemonium Limited?"

Newlyweds, these. Or perhaps not yet even that.

"Oh my. ...And is that one-way, or round-trip?"

The question catches him off guard, but his companion does not falter. "Round trip, if you would," she says.

Looking deep within their souls, the Baroness finds nothing out of the ordinary for such folk as these. Excitement. Nervousness. Giddiness. All is as it should be. And so it was proclaimed:
They shall pass.

"Right, then! Eighty-five juliène, please. ...Have fun~"

The Baroness finds discontent within her as the couple depart. There was a time when that was her, or so she thought. A fun little fling in the end that lasted only a decade, and then that prancing bastard dropped her for some cataboligne
tart

"Hi, um. When's the next train to Pandemonium?"

The Baroness carefully conceals her shock and surprise at the sudden appearance of someone before her. And to make matters worse, the intruder is some grubby
onje.

"Sixteen minutes."

The
onje is quite an unattractive sight. Ratty-looking clothes, guilty-looking yellow eyes, hair an unattractive shade of green and thrown into an unkempt ponytail, clutching tightly a knapsack of human make that had seen better days. She exudes nervousness. The Baroness detests her already.

"Oh! Th-that's great. Great, awesome. Uh, how much... is it?"

She can see the gaze of the
onje flicking back and forth between the maps just beyond the outermost walls of the empire, and the timetables just behind her throne. Likely illiterate as well. But such is the common misfortune of her kind.

"Thirty juliène. And your papers, please."

The standard rate is twenty-five. But she does not need to know of the complexities involved, as they would surely only confuse her. The
onje offers that sum in tribute along with her identification papers.

"H-here you go. Thanks."

Although the Baroness makes a show of carefully inspecting each page, a being as skilled and adept as she needs only ensure the validity of the travel license and confirm that the name and appearance of the
onje does not match any known wanted criminals.

"...I really like the festival you all got here."

The laws and edicts that mandate this do, in truth, also require that she verify such things are true of all people purchasing tickets. However, a wise ruler knows when to apply the rules and when to use her own judgment.

"Yes, the Feast is nice."

Conversation with
onje is hardly a task for one engaged in important examination of sensitive material. But the patience of the Baroness is vast and forgiving, and so she spares her some words. Wisely, the onje falls silent after this, but does not calm herself at all. Worse still, she does not appear to be amongst the wanted.

"All in order. You may have these back. And your ticket."

With a heavy heart, the Baroness decides that the
onje is allowed to pass. She returns the papers and passes her the ticket.

The Baroness lets out a sigh. What a miserable fate this shift is. Really, if you look at it, it's quite tragic: her, locked up in here while everyone out there gets to party and have fun... Even a vagrant like that! Goddess, the unfairness of it all. The
tragedy!

She sees the newcomers approaching, this time. Two, most likely not together.

"How... how are you, ma'am. I'm'a'd like to buy a. The. Uh."

A girl dressed in a fine but slightly disheveled dress rests her weight against the little counter that stands beneath the Great Glass Wall that divides the Baroness' empire from the basest of lands beyond. She sways fractionally, but smiles widely.

"The... uh... Servant's tits, where am I going? It's the nnnname of the train. It's got
the name of the train. Right on the train."

The Baroness grants hospitality to all who come before her. Thus, she must endure even meetings such as this. Of course, after an
onje, even a drunk becomes acceptable.

"Mmm... The Cape Hob Comet?"

"Nahhh."

"The Lemega Express, then?"

"Nahhhhh."

"The Occidas Direct?"

"Yeaaaahhh~ That's my train."

The fee is exchanged for a writ of passage, and the woman is mercifully on her way in no time at all. As soon as she departs, the other approaches. Indeed, this hat and wingtips just visible over the bottom lip of the wall are not traveling with the inebriated fairy, apparently.

"How ya findin' this evenin', miss?"

How dare he! Too short to even be seen, and he presumes to speak before the Baroness has a chance to address him?! Does he not know she has had people flogged for less?

"Ha ha ha. Well, it's long as always. Where might you be headed, sir?"

To show outrage is to show that she is less than befitting of her station, and this simply would not do.

"Out to Sanjiva, darlin'. Business is callin', so Carlescu's goin'. You know how it is."

She does not. But when he offers the precise payment even before being prompted, she does admit to herself that not needing to make change is pretty nice. The hat and wing tips are given passage, and so she is left with her thoughts once more.

Just two more days. Two more days, and the Baroness' evenings will be hers again to do with as she pleases. However, carrying out these grand duties comes before frivolity. Such is the way of the world.

If only she didn't have to hear the faintest sounds of celebration from beyond the wall. In sight, in reach... yet not.

A smoke-grey bird alights before her.

Qwirrrup.

The lower half is a pair of fairly standard legs in light trousers, but the upper half is very large, and very avian. With its beak, it sets a note before her with but a single word written upon it:

    ҹನᅀჯ

"Bardo? It leaves in four hours. One-way or round-trip?"

Wirp.

It twirls a feathered wing around.

"Very good, then. Thirty-six juliène, if you please."

It ducks its head under its wing feathers, and rummages around in... somewhere. But a second later, it reemerges with the fee in its beak. The Baroness accepts the tribute, pronounces her benevolent judgement in its favor, and gives it her blessing.

Only the lowest and most foul would interfere with one of the Não-Desee. Whatever thoughts the Baroness might have about others, few in the land would speak ill of or do wrong to those poor things.

The same could not be thought about
all who walk the red soil of Makai, of course. And several people later, there arrived before her a perfect example of this.

"A fine evening to you, madam. Are there tickets available still on the Occidas Direct?"

The Baroness' jaws clench. An
onje, speaking like that to one such as she? As if she were a peer?

"Yes."

As she examines them with a more critical eye, she begins to see where they picked up the notion that this would be acceptable. The
onje is dressed... tidily, that much can be said. There's something odd about how the light strikes her hair. She's not standing in shadow, so it shouldn't be so difficult to tell what color it is. Something deep, dark—purple, maybe? Green? No, it must be blue; the red of night is only making it appear purple. That makes more sense.

"Oh, most wonderful! I would like one ticket, please. First-class."

...The Baroness, in her boundless mercy, accedes to the
onje's plea.

"Fifty-six."

And in order to expedite this, some details may happen to slip her mind, but nobody is perfect, of course.
Onje thrive on surprises, cheap thrills and the like, do they not? How could the Baroness be at fault for only wishing to enrich this one's life that much more?

"Thank you ever so much, madam. I wish you a fine rest of the evening."

A most unlikely occurrence, to be sure.

When a sniffling, red-eyed demon girl comes before the Baroness but minutes afterward, she is much more thoughtful.

"Th-the ten-forty t-to... to Elysian Island, p-please. Sorry."

Thoughtful, but only in her thoughts. She does not question this one.

"Seventy-four juliène, dear."

The girl brushes the moss out of her eyes and offers her fee to the Baroness. A lonely place, that.

She leaves, and the Baroness sighs quietly. Lost love is a terrible thing. Lost love that went and got lost because it was hanging around with those a tramp from the low fields is even worse.

Whistling catches the Baroness' attention. Her head jerks up, fire on her tongue, but no, no. Just someone whistling to themselves. Not at her... though he is walking up.

"Quite a night, huh?"

The Baroness considers, for the four hundred and sixty-third time, putting forth a printed decree that addresses all who seek her favor, declaring that in her court, conversation is an ally to none.

"That's what I'm told. Are you looking to travel somewhere tonight, sir?"

Politeness above all else.

"There's some kinda hubbub with the Wa—oh, yeah, yeah. Sorry. Anything to Penumbra in the next couple hours?"

Sometimes, the Baroness felt more like a governess.

"Why yes. In about... forty-one minutes."

It could not even be said that the festival-hours compensation was truly inadequate. It sufficed. However, after factoring in all the intangibles, there was much that could be said to be lacking.

"Fantastic! One seat in coach, then."

He's trying to be friendly, of course. And one should be, before the Baroness. So she only hates him a little.

"Right away, sir. Thirty-one juliène."

Tribute is offered and accepted. He is allowed passage.

"Thanks truly. Don't work too hard in there!"

The Baroness decides to hate him a bit more.



-[[[

[ ] Something Shaking
[ ] Something Still

________________________________________________________________________________

I can't put anything clever in here, and I can't lie, either. Instead, I'll just ask for your forgiveness. Again.

>>15611
It is.
And thank you.
>> No. 15768
Fell updated! All hands, battle stations!

[x] Something Still

The calm before the storm.
>> No. 15771
Your manga recommendations have been surprisingly on point for me. Can't wait to see the new arc of 'I'm a spider, so what?' which, I assume, will be when the shoe drops and the tone changes dramatically.

Kinda like Doki Doki, but with less suprisingly disturbing content.
>> No. 15781
>He offers his humble gratitude and goes along to the Station that lies beyond her lands, leaving the Baroness alone in her domain once more.

>...The night shift sucks. Pays well, definitely. But it suuuuucks.


Baroness story when? PogChamp

>A fun little fling in the end that lasted only a decade

'Only' ten years FeelsBadMan.

>A smoke-grey bird alights before her.

monkaS


>Não-Desee

Are they the handicapped of Makai? 4Head

>There's something odd about how the light strikes her hair. She's not standing in shadow, so it shouldn't be so difficult to tell what color it is. Something deep, dark—purple, maybe? Green? No, it must be blue; the red of night is only making it appear purple

Nue! Kappa


>And in order to expedite this, some details may happen to slip her mind, but nobody is perfect, of course. Onje thrive on surprises, cheap thrills and the like, do they not? How could the Baroness be at fault for only wishing to enrich this one's life that much more?

RIP Sanae LUL
>> No. 15797
[x] Something Shaking (The train?)

Shaken, not stirred.
>> No. 15849
Oh god, I'm so behind on my reading. Stop these stealth updates.
>> No. 15852
File 15148596662.jpg - (32.54KB, 384x384, do i look like a waiter.jpg) [iqdb]
15852
[尖] Something Still

[ ♫: https://youtu.be/SAp-FdDHaXU ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=SAp-FdDHaXU ]
[ ♫: http://youtu.be/fmW_1blvuKE ]
[ ♫: http://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=fmW_1blvuKE ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/hmjcn ]


The train station at Dis is not as crowded as I'd like. The throng that filled the place when I was here with Honne has gone somewhere else <probably the feast>. No duh. It's still busy, but not the kind of busy I could really use right now. But I'm in here now, and I don't want to go attracting attention.

Thirty-three minutes before the train gets here. Gods, I hope the new look and new clothes work. The curt lady at the ticket booth didn't seem to recognize me, I think, so maybe they're doing the trick. None of the other passengers waiting with me in the 'lounge' are really bothering to give me any glances <except the kids>. Yeah, except them. ...Heh, it's almost like it would be back in Japan, but because they're actually busy with their own stuff instead of politely ignoring the weirdo.

...

The only reason I'm not unhappy about leaving my PSP at home is that I know it'd be broken by now <battery would be dead too>. Whatever. I wouldn't be able to relax enough to play it, either. I'm going to turn into a wreck if I just try and pass the time calmly. This isn't the time or the place for meditation, either.

[Hi there~ Ah, he waved back! Must be at that age~]

Off to the side, the creak of a swinging door draws my attention. A slim demon exits a little room marked with one of the few words I actually recognize. I hadn't even thought about it until now, but yes, I could do with a bathroom break. I scoop up the rough-looking sack at my feet and make my way over there.

Like the others, this bathroom is covered floor to ceiling in tile, <uhhh whoa hang on> although the creamy orange color is a new <never mind that look> twist I'm not famil—oh. And I'm retreating, now.

In normal circumstances I'd be more embarrassed about that. Even so, my cheeks still feel warm. This time, I go in the other door.

Rose-colored tile, in this one. I like it a little more, but it—wait, what <how come theres>? All right. Something weird is going on here. I back out of this bathroom as well, and make sure to get a good look at the sign on each door.

...No, I was right the first time <but>. Forget it, it's Makai. Why should it make sense? Urinals in both bathrooms? Fine, whatever. I don't really want to know <i bet tokyo big sightd get use out of them at comiket>. Heh.

After making use of the stalls, I look at myself in the mirror while washing my hands. Finally, something familiar and normal allows my brain to have a moment to think.

Okay.

The fairy probably saw me out at the Feast. The odds are insane that we'd bump into each other, but we did. Couldn't have been tracking me, I don't think, or else it'd have happened sooner. Probably.

He said he was hunting his aunt's killer—the fairy at the farm. Why not just contact the Watch and let them handle it? Is this some kind of tale of vengeance? She's not ...dead-dead, from the sound of it <but not well either>. And then he ran off to go tell the Watch anyway. I don't know what the heck he was thinking. It all seems like a mess. What would drive him on, then scare him off—

My hands stop scrubbing.

Right. They still think I'm the Smoke-Woman <but i told her i wasnt though>. Please, like they'd give that any weight. She fought with the real Smoke-Woman, then gets fooled and killed by someone who seemed like she was pretending to be someone else. And gods know the Smoke-Woman thrives on lies and misdirection. Me constantly saying I'm not her is going to make me look even more suspicious, even if only because it raises more questions.

...I've already gone over all this before. Whatever he was thinking doesn't matter. I killed her, and he knows that, and I know that. He knows my star sign—I need to be careful with using magic from now on. And if he's gone to the Watch, they'll know, too.

I wonder if I'm being framed <itd take some kind of scheming genius to>. ...No, I am being framed. On purpose or not, that's the outcome. And really, it doesn't change anything on my end. I need to get out of Makai as soon as possible. That's still the goal. It's just getting harder to reach, is all.

"Gotta keep on' walkin'," I mutter. After shutting off the faucet, I take another long look at myself in the mirror.

One dumb shrine maiden in stolen clothes looks back at me. She's tired—from all the partying at the Feast, you'd think, but nah, she's just trying to outrun the cops. Paragon of responsibility, right there. At least she was smart enough to disguise herself again. Sorting that handful of not-worms for quick access was a good move, it turns out. Hope nobody reports their clothesline getting robbed anytime soon, though.

The Ryougi-style look works pretty well. Pinned-up hair, jacket, long dress... Of sorts. At least it's a lot warmer. Still the same boots. Maybe I should stain those darker. Getting recognized by shoes feels like a detective-story thing <just keep the bag in front>. That might work for a bit.

Someone else enters the bathroom, and I try not to look up guiltily. Time to go.

I return to the mega-lounge. I really don't like having to sit around and wait somewhere that's so ...exposed, but it's part of the disguise. Kochiya of Moriya? She needs to be worried. She's wanted. Someone like that would naturally be trying hard to avoid people. But Asani Rayokom, the well-to-do Taoist from Hong Kong? No reason for her to hide.

[Very good~! Now how about... that bag of candy over there? Don't worry, it's just borrowing~]

My chair is still open, so I take my seat there again, and resume the wait. It's hard and it's wooden <its also not inside a cell>, but I endure. Two rows over, a pair of four-armed, pink-skinned demons play some kind of card game that doesn't look chaotic enough to be Dawncurve. Some kid is running around being what he thinks is sneaky. An elderly, well-dressed lady is nodding off while her husband reads a newssheet. A name is called out, requested to come to the ticket booth. Honne walks by <oh hey>.

Oh crap.

"Good evening. Mind if I sit here?"

I almost greeted her.


[ ] Girl keeps it down. Doesn't say much more n' needed.
[ ] Ought to live the lie. Talks like it seems she should.

________________________________________________________________________________

Something Still was the only vote when I started writing. Sorry.

Also, does anyone else know of a good youtube-looping site that isn't listenonrepeat? I didn't know it had become so utterly full of crap and extraneous garbage. I don't want to subject you guys to that if I don't have to.
>> No. 15853
>>15852
Youtube has had a native loop function for a while now. Just right click the video
>> No. 15854
[x] Ought to live the lie. Talks like it seems she should.

Nue's power has bitten Sanae in the ass once already; let's not tempt fate by acting suspisious in public.

And if Honne does recognise her, she might play along. Might. Anyone else, not so much.
>> No. 15866
File 15151528117.jpg - (95.74KB, 1252x626, look up,not at me.jpg) [iqdb]
15866
...seriously? Is it just me now?

No, that's not good enough.

You. No, not you Fell, you're doing fine. I mean you. The one reading this right now. If you haven't read this story, do so now. You'll be glad you did. If you have, get voting. This is a CYOA. Voting is required. You wouldn't want another good story to die a slow, painful death of reader apathy now would you?

No? Good. Now vote, or I'll come though your screen and rip your bloody arms off.
>> No. 15867
>>15866

Haven't posted here in, oh, 6-7 years, just stop by to reread some of my favorites. I'll take a look and read through this. Miss this site.
>> No. 15868
>>15866
For my part, I'm working on catching up. I am way back at the beginning and this story is part of a much, much bigger backlog of current stories to catch up on, though.
>> No. 15869
Sorry for not voting, I'm a dickhead.

[x] Girl keeps it down. Doesn't say much more n' needed.

I'm 300% that she's already busted, but I'm 500% sure that she can't fool her in a 1v1.
>> No. 15870
>>15854
Has it?

[x] Ought to live the lie. Talks like it seems she should.
>> No. 15871
>>15870

The way I understand it, it's the reason Sanae was mistaken for the Smoke-Woman in the first place:

>>12574
> For some reason, what stands out the most, what seems frightfully important despite the approaching thunderstorm, is that look of recognition.
> I know we've never met. She couldn't have seen me during the fight with the Smoke-woman, I think. So what about me could inspire this reaction?
> A downward glance.
> A widening of eyes.
> A shuddering exhalation that sounds more like someone holding back tears.
> ...Why, what could she possibly have seen but a dark-haired female, wearing a long, dark, loose garment, holding a stick or a wand of some sort?
>> No. 15872
>>15871
That’s an interesting idea, but the impression I got from that passage and preceding events was just that Sanae happened to look like the smoke-woman due to her clothes and such. I don’t think she and Elis figured out all the details of how the UFOs work. Nor do I think the smoke-woman knew. But your idea is still seeming more possible the more I think about it, I might need to go back and reread that part.

[x] Ought to live the lie. Talks like it seems she should.

Not sure what’s best here. Honne will probably recognize her, but she’s unlikely to have heard about Sanae’s crime. So I’ll just go with the option that doesn’t cause a tie.
>> No. 15873
>>15872

Could just be that, but green and white aren't what I'd call dark, you know?

I mean, sure, it's night, she's dirty, and she's clearly an onje... but the way it's written gives me a strong feeling something is up. And with Fell at the wheel that's usually significant.
>> No. 15925
I keep sitting down to read this and then wandering off to do something else. Again and again and again. Fucking hell.
>> No. 16075
Are you dead, Fell? You have to tell us if you're dead.
>> No. 16426
New thread: >>16427
Too long in coming.

>>16075
I am not.
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